NASA, the French space agency Centre National d’ÉtudesSpatiales, and SpaceX now are targeting 3:46 a.m. PST on Friday, Dec. 16, for launch of theSurface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.
After SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket went vertical on the pad at Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, teams identified moisture in two Merlin engines on the rocket’s first stage booster. Teams completed inspections of the rocket’s engines today, but will use the additional time to complete data reviews and analysis before a launch attempt.
The SWOT satellite is healthy, and the weather forecast remains favorable for liftoff on Friday morning. Live launch coverage will begin at 6 a.m. EST (3 a.m. PST) on Friday on NASA Television, YouTube, Twitter, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
NASA, SpaceX, and Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) launch managers met today, Dec. 9, to conduct a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. During the FRR, teams provided an update on the mission status, closed out actions from previous readiness reviews, and certified the readiness to initiate final launch preparation activities.
A collaboration between NASA and the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the UK Space Agency, SWOT will be the first satellite to survey nearly all water on the Earth’s surface. Its instruments will observe the ocean’s surface topography in fine detail, as well as measure how bodies of water change over time.
Encapsulated inside the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing, SWOT is now ready for its next major milestone. Over the next couple of days, technicians will horizontally integrate the encapsulated satellite to the Falcon 9.
Liftoff is scheduled for 3:46 a.m. PST on Thursday, Dec. 15, from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex-4 East. NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is managing the launch service.
The Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite mission is now encapsulated in its payload fairing in preparation for launch. Technicians at the SpaceX processing facility at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California completed the operation and will soon mate the fairing to the top of a Falcon 9 rocket. The fairing protects the satellite from aerodynamic pressure and heating during ascent. After the rocket escapes the Earth’s atmosphere, the fairing separates into two halves, which are jettisoned back to Earth.
Once in orbit, SWOT will measure the height of water in freshwater bodies and the ocean on more than 90% of Earth’s surface. This information will provide insights into how the ocean influences climate change; how a warming world affects lakes, rivers, and reservoirs; and how communities can better prepare for disasters, such as floods.
SWOT is a collaborative effort by NASA and Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) with contributions from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and UK Space Agency.
Launch is targeted for Dec. 15 at 3:46 a.m. PST from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg.